By Dare Glintstone
I have read many tributes on Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande but this extract from Okey Ndibe, is the most comprehensive statement I can quote as my introductory statement and he said “As a governor, Mr. Jakande did not court the image of an intellectual; he was content to cleave to the idea of service. He did not come across as charismatic, and would not be favored to dominate a debate. He had his eyes set on the prize—delivering the goods to his constituents. Many of today’s governors talk up a good game, but have no game. They declare themselves “icons,” proclaim that they have “redefined governance,” assert that they have “totally transformed” their state. But these haughty governors won’t entrust their children to the school system they have created, nor would they permit themselves or members of their family to receive treatment from the healthcare system they have designed. No, one of the first things they do, on taking office, is to register their children in some elite private school, preferably abroad. And, when they or their relatives take ill, they fly abroad, boosting Nigeria’s medical tourism to such countries as India, South Africa, France, Germany and the US.”
I am writing this tribute as a student of history and a full bred Lagosian. Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, also called ‘LKJ’ was governor together with these great men – the Late Olabisi Onabanjo of Ogun State, Late Ambrose Alli of the defunct Bendel State, Late Bola Ige of old Oyo State, Late Adekunle Ajasin of old Ondo State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa of Kaduna State, Jim Nwobodo of Anambra State, Late Sam Mbakwe of Imo State as political actors and state governors in Nigeria, around the same political era. No one is infallible but I doubt if there is anyone who can speak ill of his name, in terms of governance and selfless leadership. Perhaps, those who criticized him for accepting to serve under the Military government of General Sani Abacha, as Minister of works.
No one could accuse him of immoderate lifestyles, from a meticulous Journalist to the post of editor-in-chief with Tribune Newspapers in 1956, and then a Governor – these feats were almost impossible for people with no university education. Jakande ensured that members of his family attend same state-run schools and hospitals he built. On September 22, 1978, Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo announced the creation of the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, and Alhaji Lateef Jakande emerged as the governorship candidate of the UPN in Lagos State after so much politicking, on the ballot-paper against Ladega Adeniji-Adele of the National Party of Nigeria – NPN and Adeniran Ogunsanya of Nigerian People’s Party – NPP, he won the gubernatorial election and was sworn-in on October 1, 1979.
Unlike what we have today, after his swearing-in ceremony, Jakande swung into action and the first areas where he made remarkable impact were in the areas of housing, education, health, and rural development, which were the key programmes of UPN’s manifestos. History has it that he built 11,729 classrooms within five months and as at 1983, he had built more than 22,000 classrooms. He established the Lagos State University, Lagos Television and Radio Lagos and moved the state secretariat to its present site at Alausa from the old one at Oba Akinjobi Road in the GRA.
Jakande created many Low-Cost Housing Estates in various parts of Lagos – Epe, Ikorodu, Surulere, Badagry, Iba, Abesan in Ipaja, Iponri, Ijaiye, Dolphin, Amuwo-Odofin, Isolo etc. His major project was the LAGOS METROLINE PROJECT, whose foundation was laid in 1983 by then President Shehu Shagari [now late] and this project, whose first phase would have been completed in 1984 at a cost of N510 million was truncated on the orders of the military government that aborted the 2nd Republic.
December 2013, the Punch newspaper interviewed Mr. Jakande and one of the
questions the reporter asked him was, “Your children attended public schools.
How do you feel today that leaders send their children abroad to school?” The
former governor’s replied; “I feel that it is wrong and unfair for leaders to
educate their children abroad while other children are educated in Nigeria. It is
Today, I celebrate a quintessential leader at 90.
Happy Birthday ‘Baba Kekere’!